Ways to Use Anchovies

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Anchovies, which are salt-water fishes, are a group of 144  species, living in temperate waters in oceans and seas.  

I’ve never eaten anchovies, but many cookbooks had recipes on how to use and cook with them.


These delicate fish are preserved in barrels with bay salt, and no other of the finny tribe has so fine a flavor. Choose those which look red and mellow, and the bones moist and oily. They should be high-flavored, and have a fine smell, but beware of their being mixed with red paint to improve their color and appearance. When the liquor dries, pour on them some beef brine, and keep the jar close tied down with paper and leather. Sprats are sometimes sold for anchovies, but by washing them the imposition may be detected.

Chop two dozen of anchovies, without the bone, add some of their own liquor strained, and sixteen large spoonfuls of water. Boil them gently till dissolved, which will be in a few minutes. Let it get cold, then strain and bottle the liquor. The essence can generally be bought cheaper than you can make it.

Pound anchovies in a mortar, rub the pulp through a fine sieve, and put it in pots. Cover it with clarified butter and keep it in a cool place. The paste may also be made by rubbing the essence with as much flour as will make a paste, but this is only intended for immediate use and will not keep. This is sometimes made stiffer and hotter, by the addition of a little flour of mustard, a pickled walnut, spice, or cayenne.

Pound the fish in a mortar and rub them through a sieve. Make them into a paste with dried flour, roll it into thin cakes, and dry them in a Dutch oven before a slow fire. To this may be added a small portion of cayenne, grated lemon peel, and citric acid. Pounded to a fine powder, and put into a well-stopped bottle, it will keep for years. It is a very savory relish sprinkled on bread and butter for a sandwich.

Chop one or two anchovies without washing. Put them into a saucepan with flour and butter, and a spoonful of water. Stir it over the fire till it boils once or twice. When the anchovies are good, they will soon be dissolved, and distinguished both by their color and fragrance.

Soak, bone, dry, and pound eight salted anchovies. Add twice their bulk of fresh butter. Mix thoroughly, press forcibly through a fine sieve, and add a little more butter and the juice of a lemon. Make into small pats and keep in a cold place.

Mix one tablespoon oil and one-half glass white wine together with sufficient flour to make into a thickish paste. Cleanse twelve anchovies, wipe them, dip them in the paste, and fry of a nice brown color. Sufficient for two persons.

Bone and skin six or eight anchovies, pound them to a mass with an ounce of fine butter till the color is equal, and then spread it on toast. Or cut thin slices of bread, and fry them in clarified butter. Garnish with parsley or pickles.

Press cooked spinach, chopped fine, through a purée sieve. Reheat with a little butter, salt and two or three drops of tobasco sauce. Sauté rounds of bread to a golden brown in a little hot butter. Spread with anchovy paste, and over this spread the purée of spinach. Press into the spinach on each round of bread a quarter of a hard-boiled egg cut lengthwise, having the yolk uppermost.

image credit: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble on flickr

More reading: Ways to Use Anchovies from Serious

Posted in Fish.


  1. I love the strong flavour of anchovies, so I’ll try some of these ideas – I sometimes have them on Marguerita Pizzas or add some anchovy paste or anchovies to Chinese stirfry

    • I just bought some anchovies and some anchovy paste at the store yesterday. I’m ready to give them a try.

  2. As a child one of my favourite suppers was anchovies on toast. I haven’t had that for ages but just might try it again soon!

    • Isn’t it fun to remember food we ate as children, but don’t eat anymore? I loved fried chicken cooked in an iron skillet. But even though I’ve never eaten anchovies, I’ve written them down on my grocery list.

  3. Thanks for all these ideas!

    • You’re welcome. I’m learning a lot by reading through old cookbooks. I plan to buy a can of anchovies just to say I’ve tried them.

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